When the players report for the start of the 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers training camp one week from today, most of us will be fixed on what veteran tight end Heath Miller has to say about his knee and how his rehab his coming along.
Miller, who will be roughly seven months removed from his surgery to repair a torn ACL, MCL and PCL that he suffered in the Week 16 game last year against the Cincinnati Bengals next Friday, was already running sprints much to the delight of his teammates during the final OTA practices. However, despite that positive report, Miller is certain to begin training camp on the Active PUP list as he continues his rehab.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has said several times during the offseason that he thinks Miller will be ready to start the season, but that is merely speculation on his part.
Miller will reach the eight-month mark of his rehab just as the Steelers are finishing up training camp and playing their final few preseason games. While he isn\’t expected to be removed from the PUP list by then, there is still a chance that he could be ready for limited action come the season opener against the Tennessee Titans.
Miller was such a huge part of the offense last season, as he not only set a career high in receiving yardage, but times targeted as well. While the Steelers did decide to bring back veteran tight end Matt Spaeth during the offseason following his two seasons away with the Chicago Bears, there is no way he can fill the receiving void left by Miller should he start the season on the sidelines. Spaeth is a solid blocker, but he has only recorded double-digit receptions once during his six previous seasons.
As far as second-year tight end David Paulson goes, he is still very unproven and certainly doesn\’t pose anywhere near the threat to opposing defenses that Miller does.
At the very least with the Miller, the hope is that if he isn\’t ready to play come the start of the regular season that he will not need to be placed on the Reserve PUP list during the final roster moves. A move such as that would mean he would be forced to miss the first six games of the regular season which would severely handicap the offense.